2013Q1 PAP’s Report Card: F9

Incompetence still plagues the ruling PAP government despite their promises to make things better in their worst electoral performance in 2011.

2013 HDB Resale Price IndexHousing prices still going up
The PAP’s 2011 election promise made to ensure affordable public housing to Singaporeans has only worsen. Despite a series of property cooling measures introduced by the new Minister of National Development Khaw Boon Wan, HDB prices have continued its 11th year trend of increasing prices. According to the latest data published by the HDB, the sole indicator to track HDB prices, the Resale Price Index, increased 1.2% in the 4th quarter of 2012. There have been a number of “expectation management” political sales talk by the PAP though, with one by the Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam claiming a Singaporean with a $1000 paycheck could afford a HDB flat [Source]. That of course was responded with angry backlash from the public that several Ministers and PAP MPs had to step in to back Tharman’s claim.

Transport
The latest “un-PAP” measure(the word “free” is not in the PAP’s dictionary) to manage overcrowding is to provide free train rides before the morning peak hour. Although the move was welcomed by many, the overcrowding situation in the public transport is so bad that giving incentives to passengers could not even ease the overcrowding issue. Frustrations and negative sentiments are largely stemmed from the worsening state of public transport. Private transport has also became a non-option with COE prices breaking record and with the latest car population control policies, the COE became unbalanced(small car buyers pay more COE taxes than large cars buyers).

Propaganda, censorship and media control
Leslie Chew of Demon-cratic Singapore was arrested. Richard of Temasek Review was sent 2 letters of demands by the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his brother. Former Temasek Review editor Joseph Ong was investigated for electoral-related charges. Singapore’s mainstream media’s independence ranking dropped further from 139th to 149th, clearly proving that the PAP’s intolerance for dissent has only delved deeper.

Breaking down of infrastructure
Flash floods and train breakdowns continue to persist and increased in frequency as compared to the past. Recently, there have also been cases of unprecedented phenomenons like sink holes appearing in Singapore roads. Hospitals have also seen a “bed crunch” and the average waiting time in polyclinics are getting longer.

Population control
Overcrowding tops Singaporeans’ list of concerns today. It is apparent the existing set up can not support the present 5.31 million population, and when the Population White Paper by the PAP claimed a 6.9 million population was the target, Singaporeans responded with a massive outcry. A protest was conducted in April and more than 5000 Singaporeans turned up for the event – very untypical of the usually self-subduing behavior of Singaporeans. The population continues to increase today at a “slower rate”, and the eventual social result is a rising anti-foreigner sentiment brewing among Singaporeans. Coupled with a government-controlled workers union, the influx of foreign labor have benefited local businesses who conveniently take full advantage by exploiting foreign labor, depressing manpower costs(salaries) and giving lesser HR benefits to workers.

CPF
More elderly are selling their HDB flats for a retirement, or simply going to the streets touting tissue papers for a living. The CPF annuity was introduced to patch the retirement loophole, however, the calculations were flawed with payouts not inflation-hedged and some people with very low CPF saving getting as low as $170 a month for retirement.

Healthcare
Singapore’s high cost of medical bills is largely resulted from PAP’s anti-welfare “you-die-your-business” stance. The percentage of the GDP spent on healthcare in Singapore, is one of the lowest in the world at 4% of the GDP, or a quarter that of the United States. This has prompted former Nominated Member of Parliament Dr Kalwaljit Soin blasting the PAP government for making Singaporeans pay too high for “out-of-pocket expenses” and denouncing the “much vaunted 3M” system(Medisave, Medishield and Medifund) for only representing 10% of the patients’ total healthcare expenditures. She also criticized the PAP for misplacing their priorities in their annual Budget, especially on the record Defense Budget:

 ”We can afford to spend more on defence, other things, but you have to look at health. Otherwise, what are you defending? You are defending sickly people,”

Final Grading: F9
None of Singaporeans’ basic necessities have been met, let alone talk about expectations. What the PAP has done so far is to manage public perceptions through the use of propaganda, lawsuits and fake feedback sessions called the “Singapore Conversation”.They deserve a F9 for politiking and not solving problems. It remains unknown if 60% of the Singaporeans will continue to be fooled by the PAP with old problems mounting and new problems surfacing.

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Putien restaurant chain new citizen owner helping his own kind

Shin Min - 26 Jul 2012 - 莆田设长远目标China born turned Singaporean Citizen owner of Putien restaurant chain encouraged the Chefs that he hired from China to bring their wives. Currently there are 30 couples working there, and the CEO hopes to send them for classes to upgrade them, the objective is to allow them to obtain PR status as their children back in China are growing up so that the family can be united.

My question is, cant Singaporeans be trained in the same roles? The wives are serving as waitresses while the husbands work in the kitchen, is that so difficult? What then is Putien’s ratio of Singaporeans to Foreigners? Despite the fact the CEO has obtained Singaporean citizenship, why is his allegiance still with his mainland countrymen? Did he even understand the pledge he took to become a citizen?

By Anonymous

 

Free market approach for housing is a failure

Do go through this video and you will know why Singapore is on track for a recession.

A quick summary that sums up the factors in Singapore’s HDB context:

1) Trigger – Lack of buyers. Income growth lagging behind growth of home ownership, and since nobody in Singapore buys a HDB flat in cash, home ownership = debt. This is the trigger that resulted in the domino effect of foreclosures. When housing prices starts falling, people will realize the amount of debt they are servicing are higher than the value of the house and in turn this will cause panic selling, further worsening the falling price trend.

This means banks are getting buffed up through cheap credit 2) Bank Leveraging – Greed of the banks. A low interest environment resulting in hot money from both foreign investors and Singapore Bonds flowing into property prices resulting in a delusion that Singapore properties are always going up. Singapore’s low interest-environment is even more extreme, with banks having tonnes of cheap credit and loading themselves up with leverage(as explained in the video). Current SIBOR rate is at its lowest ever. [Source]

Point to note for Singapore:

1) It is not known if the PAP government learned anything from the US financial crisis to ensure that Singapore banks are regulated from leveraging to the extent where a single lost bet could bankrupt them.

2) How much should HDB flats be priced? The PAP government do not use the income approach – valuating housing price as a ratio to income – hence that explains why housing prices are getting more unaffordable to the average Singaporean. The PAP government apparently do not use the cost approach either – otherwise why wouldn’t they give a cost breakdown of the housing price. So the real question to ask the PAP, is what approach do they adopt when pricing the HDB? How do we know what is affordable or expensive? The PAP government has been silent on this issue, but it is evident, that their approach, is the free market approach – housing prices be subjected to supply and demand regardless if citizens can afford them or not. The end result? Unaffordable, overpriced and the very same illusion that HDB prices can rise forever(a common fallacious propaganda promoted by the PAP government, the PAP calls it “capital appreciation” and intends to pervert the term to make up for the CPF’s incompetency to address retirement).

The current housing solutions are still ineffective because the only measurement of success is through the Resale Price Index, which is still rising albeit at a slower rate. The only way we know when will the housing solutions be successful is when we see a U-turn.

Some may argue for a moderated U-turn because they believe a nose-dive U-turn will result in panic selling. This is true, but only when we introduce a new classification of housing category – one that is truly nationalized and befitting the term “Public Housing”. Abolish the “capital appreciation” concept and ban profiteering. You buy from the HDB, you sell back to the HDB at the same price factoring inflation, and the HDB adopts a income or cost approach to mandate the price. Oh and don’t call them BTO, let the existing BTO scheme stays and die out like the Design, Build, Sell Scheme(DBSS). BTO owners will of course complain like the DBSS owners today, but we all know this is for the better of the future generations.

 

Co-editor
Wiki Temasek
Alex Tan

1996 Transport White Paper planned 5.3 million population for year 2020

Everyday overcrowdingBack in 1996 then, the Transport White Paper then projected daily ridership to peak in 2020 at 4.6 million. But today in 2013, we have hit 6.3 million[Source] – some 7 years ahead of schedule, or in other words, we have reached the 1996-planned population figure for 2020 7 years earlier. According to the old batch of PAP leaders, a 5.3 million population is supposed to be a figure attainable in 2020 if we equate planning parameters to the population size.

Go through the 1996 White Paper and you will notice their emphasis on ensuring a smooth uninterrupted flow of traffic to cut down unproductive man hours of the economy. We will also notice that the 1996 PAP leadership placed much emphasis on wage growth of workers in the transport sector with target real wage growth of 5% to 7%, which would translate to about $2500 monthly basic salary for bus drivers with the former 5 day work week format.

“Costs of time wasted in traffic jams: $45 million a year in 1995”
-Page 10, White Paper – A World Class Transportation System [Source]

How much do you think will the latest series of train breakdowns costs?